At the conclusion of the Book of Exodus, we discover that what began with suffering ends with glory as Yahweh takes up residence in the midst of His people. Exodus 40:34-35—
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
This final scene has at least four foreshadowing.
1. The Tabernacle filled with the glory of God, foreshadowing Jesus Christ, who dwelled among us
2. The Christian indwelled with Holy Spirit
3. The Millennial with Christ on His earthly throne reigning over the earth
4. The New Earth with God making His dwelling with the righteous
Revelation 21:3 says—
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling [literally, the Tabernacle] of God is with men, and he will live with them.
The hope of dwelling with God would have not crossed anyone’s mind when the Book of Exodus opens. In fact, the future is very uncertain and bleak.
Jacob’s descendants are numerous and filling the land of Egypt. A new king, who did not know about Joseph, comes to power and fears the Hebrews will over power them so he puts slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They worked the Hebrew slaves ruthlessly and made their lives bitter with hard labor, but they still multiplied.
The first chapter describes the suffering of the Hebrews and glory is no where in sight as the chapter ends—
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Oppression and death appear to be the future of Jacob’s descendants. All in Egypt belongs to Pharaoh— including the Hebrews. And Pharaoh is out to destroy them! Of course, EGYPT typifies the world, PHARAOH typifies Satan, and HIS PEOPLE typifies the children of the devil. The world and its inhabitants are the possessions of Satan.
The Exodus is the key to understanding Jesus’ parable in Mark 3:27—
In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.
Chapters 2-14 of Exodus illustrate this parable. The STRONG MAN is SATAN, his HOUSE is the world, the ONE WHO ENTERS is JESUS. But at this point in history, the main characters are PHARAOH and MOSES! Moses enters Pharaoh’s house and robs him of his possessions—not only of the Hebrews, but the wealth of Egypt also.
Chapter two opens with the Hebrew deliverer and mediator being born into the world. He is spared by Pharaoh’s daughter, who draws him out of the Nile and takes him into the house of Pharaoh, naming him MOSES!
At age forty, Moses desiring to deliver his people, kills an Egyptian taskmaster, thinking the Hebrews will follow him. But his plot fails since it is not God’s plan or timing. Moses flees to Midian and spends the next forty years in the desert tending sheep. The proud and self-sufficient Moses is being humbled. Suffering precedes glory!
Unlike chapter one, chapter two ends on a bright note of hope for the Hebrews—
During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
God will hear the cry of every human being enslaved by Satan when they cry out to Him with groanings for help. It is the poor in spirit that God delivers from bondage.
Moses has become poor in spirit and is now prepared, although not ready, to shepherd God’s people. Yahweh appears to Moses in the burning bush on Mt. Sinai, telling him in Exodus 3:7-10—
I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Of course, this foreshadows God sending His Son into the world to rescue us from the bondage of the world, the flesh and the devil. Many refuse to call out to God for help until their suffering and oppression reach an unbearable point. The Israelites were in Egypt almost four hundred years until they cried out for help and it came only when the oppression became insufferable.
Its amazing, but people grow accustomed to bondage! Billions prefer to live under Satan’s oppression rather than God’s freedom! Moses and Aaron arrive in Egypt and confront Pharaoh in Exodus 5:1-2—
“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.'” Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.”
Pharaoh responds by increasing their burden—ordering the slave drivers and foremen not to supply the people with straw for making bricks. In turn, the Israelite foremen blast Moses and Aaron in 5:21—
May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.
Moses is caught between a rock and a hard place. Having failed with Pharaoh and having received a tongue lashing from the Israelite foremen, Yahweh encourages Moses by affirming His promises in the Abrahamic Covenant with Chapter 6: I will bring you out; I will free you; I will redeem you.
When everything seems to go wrong, the thing we need most is an encouraging word from the LORD. Yet, so few turn to God’s promises in the Bible for encouragement and sustaining strength when discouraged.
The Good News of Scripture is that God uses NOBODIES and makes them SOMEBODIES. He can take failure and turn it to success. Moses expected to deliver the Israelites at age 40, when he was SOMEBODY, but God’s plan was that Moses would redeem them at age 80, when he was a NOBODY. Now Moses had to lean upon the LORD and trust Him and acknowledge Him in all His ways. Moses knew he could not accomplish the task without God!
Chapters 7-14 records nine more failures on the part of Moses as Pharaoh’s heart grows harder and harder, and more determined not to let God’s people go. Yet, under the surface of the nine plagues is the BATTLE OF THE GODS—and Moses and Aaron and Yahweh are the real winners of the nine hostile encounters. The battle pitted Yahweh, the true God, against all the false gods of the Egyptian pantheon, backed by a host of fallen angels (demons) who had turned from God as part of Satan’s rebellion. Satan desires the worship of man and he gets it through false religion.
Systematically, the LORD destroys Egypt’s false gods and religion with the miraculous signs and wonders. Moses has enters the strong’s man house and ties him up so that he take his possessions. The final strike of the Battle of the Gods came at midnight of Abib 15, 1446 B.C. The LORD struck down all the firstborn of the Egyptians. The darkness of the night matched the darkness of the deed. No Egyptian household was spared, not one. The destroyer, however, passed over the Israelite households with sprinkled blood of lambs on the door-frames.
With His mighty hand and outstretched arm, Yahweh performed the greatest act of redemption in the OT—foreshadowing the greatest act of redemption in the NT—the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Exodus 12:40-41 states—
Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.
Like the Exodus, Calvary occurred exactly on God’s time table. Not a day too soon or a day too late—to the exact day. God works on a divine calendar, which He makes known in the feasts of Israel. God knows what He is going to do and when He is going to do it. He overrules history! His Word is certain and unbreakable. He has kept His promises.
The Christian’s salvation is marvelously pictured in chapters 12-14. The Israelites are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, the firstborn are consecrated to the LORD, all males are circumcised and the people are commanded to celebrate the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread. God redeems us by His Son’s blood from the bondage of the world, the flesh and the Devil, so with our hearts circumcised by the Holy Spirit, we might consecrate ourselves to God and celebrate the Festival of Holy Living.
Immediately following redemption, the testing of Israel’s faith begins. Instead of taking the short route to the Promised Land, God leads them into the desert. He does this so Pharaoh will think the Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert. He hardens Pharaoh’s heart so he will pursue them. God tells Moses to tell the Israelites TO TURN BACK! Humanly speaking, it makes more sense to travel as fast and straight as possible from Pharaoh—not to turn back towards him.
Once again divine planning is in view. God has a strategy. He has led His people into a place of helplessness and hopelessness. The king of Egypt assumes that Israel’s divine help has run out and that they are hopelessly entangled on a dead-end road since the desert, the sea, and marshes bar their way out of this trap of their own making.
How this brings out the deep-seatedness of unbelief! How it demonstrates the folly of human reason! The Israelites are trapped by the sea and shut-in by the desert, but it is Yahweh’s trap!
Since God is testing Israel’s trust in Him, He makes no mention of His plan of deliverance. They will not see the way out of the maze of confusion until God provides the way out. Their only responsibility is to trust Him to provide a way out.
Every chariot and every horsemen is thrown into the pursuit of the Israelites! How will they respond? Exodus 14:10-12—
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, `Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
The sweet smelling scent of boldness and trust has vanished in the stench of unbelief and cowardice. God desires His people to be strong and courageous—not terrified in the face of the enemy! The apostle writes in 1 John 4:4—
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Witnesses of the miraculous signs and wonders, Israel has forgotten that God had smitten Egypt with His judgments and delivered them with great power. They do not believe that He will see them through this test. For them Bondage is preferable to life between the devil and the deep blue sea!
Moses’ answer is classic in Exodus 14:13-14—
Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Obedience to Moses’ commands will bring deliverance. Here is the image of God as Warrior or Leader in battle and it’s a sound biblical principle to LET GOD FIGHT YOUR BATTLES!
Moses lifts up his staff and stretches forth his hand the sea separates and the Israelites walk through on dry ground. EVANGELICALLY, the crossing of the Red Sea tells of the completeness of our salvation. Israel passed through the RED SEA and left EGYPT behind. The enemy that brought bondage and death was destroyed—Pharaoh’s army drowned in sea water. The Red Sea Crossing for Israel symbolized being baptized into Moses and it compares with our baptism into Christ. In Christ, we are brought from death to life!
Chapter 15 records the SONG OF MOSES with its HIGH HOPES. The song is the product of a new experience, an experience of both God and people—as Liberator and liberated. The underlying purposes of God’s deliverance of Israel was to receive WORSHIP and GLORY. He had told Moses in Exodus 4:22-23—
Then say to Pharaoh, `This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so that he may worship me.”
On the opposite shore, the people worship the LORD! But it doesn’t take long for worship to turn to bitterness. Redemption is the beginning, not the end of the journey! At first, life after redemption is usually challenging and exciting, but all too quickly it can become tedious and boring—especially if we forget and forsake our first love. When that takes place, grumbling and complaining against the LORD and His leaders are not far behind. Exodus 15:22-24—
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
The people’s song of praise has changed to a string of complaints. Bitter people and bitter water! If the heart is not right with God, bitter experiences will bring bitter words out of a bitter heart. No matter how hard you try, you cannot change your heart. But, the Good News is that God can make a BITTER HEART SWEET! Look at Exodus 15:25—
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them.
What’s the lesson? It’s better to pray than complain!
Theologically, this miracle also typifies our salvation in Christ. God painted a picture at Marah—-“I AM THE LORD WHO HEALS!” The Hebrew word translated PIECE OF WOOD is mostly translated TREE in the Bible. The TREE that takes bitterness and makes it sweet is identified in 1 Peter 2:24—
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Since our bitterness is exchanged for God’s sweetness—sin for righteousness—we are to live for righteousness. That’s the point of the LORD making a decree and law for Israel at Marah—to test their faith and willingness to live righteously! GRACE carries with it the obligation of OBEDIENCE. We are saved by grace, and our works show that we are saved!
MARAH is followed by ELIM. Exodus 15:27—
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.
First, the bitter waters of Marah sweetened by the tree, and then the springs of pure water and the palms trees for shade and refreshment. When we have come to Christ and drank of His salvation and walk in obedience with Him by obeying His commands, we will experience streams of living water.
ELIM is the place of BLESSEDNESS. Psalm 1:1-3 illustrates ELIM—
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
OBEDIENCE leads to BLESSEDNESS in the Christian’s life.
THE RED SEA, MARAH and ELIM teach us that life is a combination of the bitter and the sweet, triumphs and trials. Mountain-top experiences are often followed by the valley and desert. If we are following God, however, we never need fear what comes our way. And after the trial there is often a spiritual ELIM where God refreshes us. We must accept bitter waters with the sweet, knowing that God knows what is best for us.
All the experiences of Israel in the desert typify or correspond to the Christian experience. After being refreshed at Elim, the Israelites journeyed to the Desert of Sin. One month has passed since they left Egypt and now their food supply has run out. With this crisis, the entire congregation grumbles against God, but the LORD graciously gives them quail and manna.
Hunger in the desert tests one’s humility and dependence upon God. Sometimes physical hunger is the purpose of God. The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert to go hungry for forty days and nights following His baptism. There the Devil tempted Him to turn stones to bread. But Jesus answered—
“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
MANNA is similar to THE WORD OF GOD in at least fourteen ways and it also has fourteen characteristics of Christ, who came down from heaven. With the giving of MANNA, God is teaching the Christian to feed daily on the Word—the Inspired Word—the Bible—and the Incarnate Word—Christ!
Together Christ and the Bible impart life and sustain life. One must eat the Bread of Life, not merely look at it, touch it, and smell it! Jesus said in John 6:63-64—
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
Miraculously fed each day with MANNA, the Israelites are called upon once more to exhibit their confidence in God. The CRISIS-TEST of THIRST and no water to drink is repeated by the LORD. Sometimes God takes us through similar experiences because we have not learned the lessons from the first one.
Chapter 17 begins with a total breakdown of trust—thirsty people grumbling against Moses instead of praying! Again, we find that Moses prays! God tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb and water will come out of it for the people to drink. So Moses did this in the sight of the elders. Of course, the smitten Rock is a type of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 10:4—
For they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Here we have the refreshing stream gushing form the smitten Rock—the water is a beautiful type of the Spirit given as a result of Christ’s accomplished sacrifice. In Chapter 16, we have a type of Christ coming down from heaven to give life to the world. In Chapter 17, we have a type of the Holy Spirit being sent forth as a result of Christ’s finished work.
Exodus 17:8 records that—
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.
REPHIDIM means RESTS or RESTING PLACES. AMALEKITES represent the FLESH—our sinful nature in the Scriptures. The AMALEKITES did not attack until after the water was given from the Smitten Rock. When the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, He wants to give rest, but the flesh begins to oppose him according to Galatians 5:17—
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NOT AN EASIER LIFE! When the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, and you’re overflowing with hope by the power of the Holy Spirt—when you have been made partaker of the divine nature—that’s when the inward conflict begins.
The Egyptians and Amalekites represent two different powers: Egyptians represent the world; and Amalekites the flesh. And Pharaoh the Devil!
How is the battle against the Amalekites—flesh—won? Joshua and some men go out to fight the Amalekites. Moses stands on the hill with the staff of God in his hands. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hand, the Amalekites were winning. We read in Exodus 17:12-13—
When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Like Moses, Joshua is a type of Christ. Moses the Intercessor was on the mountain. Joshua the Commander was in the valley. Moses’ rule on the mountain illustrates the intercessory work of Christ. And Joshua with his sword in hand pictures the Holy Spirit using the Word of God against the enemy. Prayer and the Word of God will defeat the enemy!
Aaron and Hur helped Moses keep His hands outstretched, which are a prayer gesture. When individuals pray alone, they often grow weary like Moses. But prayer is energized when two or three pray together!
Alone Moses could not win the battle, nor could Joshua win on the battlefield—help was needed for the victory. This event illustrates that a pastor who does not have the help of others in prayer will grow tired, unsteady, and the people will lose the battle with the flesh!
The need for help in ministry is driven home in Chapter 18. Moses is the first person in recorded history to be headed for BURN-OUT! What Moses needed desperately was the intervention of a trusted friend. In the providence of God, Jethro arrives on the scene as a wise counselor and gets him to delegate the work. He says to Moses in Exodus 18:17-18—
What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.
Interestingly, the delegation of tasks frees Moses for the ministry of the Word of God and prayer in the rest of the Book of Exodus. This is the very reason the Apostles delegated work in Acts 6:3-4—
Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.
Chapters 19-40 tell of Israel’s experiences at Mount Sinai. Here Israel is called to be God’s treasured possession, a special group of people from among all nations belonging to God.
Here the Law emerges from within the matrix of life itself. The Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant are given to a redeemed people who have entered into a covenant relationship with the LORD, promising to obey all that He commands. Therefore, God’s kingdom on earth is based on His covenants and a personal relationship with Him.
On Mount Sinai, Moses receives from the LORD the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments and the instructions for building the Tabernacle—Law and Grace!
One third of the Book of Exodus is devoted to the Tabernacle. Here the Israelite and the Christian are taught HOW GOD COMES TO US IN CHRIST AND HOW WE GO TO GOD IN CHRIST. The Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the priesthood picture Christ, Salvation, and the Christian in remarkable detail.
Sandwiched between the instructions and its construction and erection are the Golden Calf Debacle along with Moses’ intercession on behalf of the nation.
Moses’ face becomes radiant from being in the presence of God, symbolic of the Christian radiating Christ’s glory. We are not to be like Moses who had to wear a veil to hide the fading glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18—
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
With the LORD’S GLORY filling the Tabernacle, the nation of Israel was ready to move on. The promise of the Divine Messenger to lead the people was fulfilled. Yahweh now tabernacles in their midst as their Leader, their King, until they reach the Promised Land.
The LORD, by the means of the cloud, determines whether Israel stays or moves on. Exodus 40:36-38—
In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.
The Israelites in the desert never attempted to move on their own wisdom or judgment. They did not vote on whether or not they should move, and Moses did not make the decision—the cloud did!
All this foreshadows God’s presence indwelling the born-again Christian, to lead, to guide in all our pursuits and travels. To set out without the guiding and leading of the Holy Spirit is not an option for the Christian. If Christ is the Lord of our life, we are to let Him take the lead and follow Him.
There is no visible cloud over the church today, but the Holy Spirit of God wants to lead and guide us. Therefore, the Tabernacle filled with the glory of God is a lovely picture of devotedness.
Implicit in this devotion is the construction and erection of our life and church—paying attention to every detail—and obeying every command of the LORD—every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God— making every socket, every pole, every ring to God’s detailed instruction and then fitting each completed part in its proper place so we honor God with our body.
At the center of Israelite encampment set the Tabernacle. Christ desires to be at the center of our life also.
We have traveled through the Book of Exodus with Moses, the Israelites and God; the rest of life’s experiences lie ahead. Like the Israelites, we will be challenged by new struggles, trials and tests as we travel this earth on our journey to our inheritance—glory! The road ahead at times will be smooth; at other times, it will be rocky and bumpy—mountains, valleys, deserts lie ahead. There is uncharted territory to be crossed! Nevertheless, God desires to lead us all the way. He will not forsake us—let us not forsake Him!
Jesus has promised His followers—“and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He wants to lead us all the way!
He wants to lead us from the gloom of the slavery of the world, the flesh, the devil and to bring us into the glory of His presence and into the very center of His will where He can lead and guide us.
The Book of Exodus teaches that if we follow the LORD, it will be worth it all!